Resolutions suggested by the UT System Student Advisory Council in their latest meeting on March 3 and March 4 aim to aid students by increasing access to resources.
Established in 1989, the UT System Advisory Council incorporates student voices into issues that impact them the most. The council is made up of both undergraduate and graduate students from every school in the UT System, including UTD. The current UTD representatives are Kruthi Kanduri, Student Government president, and Megha Hooli, Graduate Student Assembly president. At the most recent meeting, the Council discussed resolutions such as creating a more transparent view of student tuition and fee breakdowns, implementing a survey on student worker conditions and designing a resource center for students. Since the Council can only make recommendations, the resolutions will go on to upper-level admin with the hopes that they are implemented system-wide.
“Student input is seen as very valuable, so if it’s feasible, a lot of times they’re taken into effect immediately or figured out how to mesh in,” Kanduri said.
In their most recent session, the Council continued progress toward the resolutions they have been working on throughout the year. One of their current focuses is recommending the creation of a financial portal for all universities where students can see a breakdown of their expenses. The goal is to increase financial transparency and equity. Institutions like UT El Paso already provide a full breakdown of fees and other expenses, but UTD does not.
“I think they do a really good job of taking in student recommendations. It’s almost like it’s run by the representative themselves … I would say the best way to think about the council is to think of a focus group of students across the UT System that chancellors and vice chancellors [of the UT System] can just come in and talk with and also get feedback,” Kanduri said.
Additionally, the Council is working on is creating a biannual survey to investigate student working conditions, with the goal of assessing if wages and working conditions are fair or need improvement. The survey would provide the UT System and each school specific data on whether wages are being increased when needed and whether workers are being treated fairly during their shifts.
The final topic formally discussed at the Council was creating a resource center on every campus that allows students to access all resources available to them. Whether the center is virtual or in-person, it would be a one-stop-shop for all student resources. For UTD, that would mean a center connecting Comets to everything from the Student Health Center to the immigration attorney at SG. Centralization would make addressing student needs easier.
After the resolutions are completed at the end of the current representatives’ term, a copy of the recommendation will be sent to the university presidents and anyone else who would be relevant in implementing the changes. For the financial portal issues, the information technology systems and bursar’s offices would be involved. While some of the issues the Council encounters may seem mundane, they help to address problems impacting students all across Texas.
“I think the difficulty in seeing the benefit from [the Council’s] initiatives comes from maybe thinking too much about your own campus [instead of] thinking about the entire system as a whole,” Kanduri said. “That’ s kind of how we operate, and that’s where a lot of these conversations and initiatives are stemming from … it’s like a collective effort.”